Posted by: OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers
You have just been told you have Salmonella poisoning. You have never been so sick before and are still recovering. You have medical bills and have been unable to work. Do you have a legal case? Can you bring a Salmonella lawsuit? What do you need to know about Salmonella lawsuits?
We hear these sorts of questions almost every day and have put together the information below to help people better understand the legal process and what to expect when bringing a Salmonella case.
If you have specific questions about your case, contact us at (888) 828-0787. We offer free consultations and you pay nothing until you win your case.
If you test positive for Salmonella and can prove what food made you sick, you almost certainly have a case. The main problem for people who have symptoms of food poisoning is that they fail to get tested for a specific pathogen. Frequently, even experienced doctors or urgent care personnel will diagnose “gastroenteritis” and may even prescribe antibiotics without obtaining a stool culture. It is critical that if you believe you have food poisoning that you ask for a stool culture to confirm the pathogen that is causing the symptoms. A stool culture will confirm that you contracted Salmonella; E. coli; Campylobacter; Listeria; or any other foodborne pathogen.
The reason it is so important to obtain this information is that a positive test (stool; blood; or other bodily fluid) will automatically trigger a notification to your state or local health department. The health department will be able to tell if you are part of an outbreak and investigate exactly what food made you sick.
The microbiological and epidemiological investigation conducted by the health department often provides the evidence necessary to bring a food poisoning lawsuit.
If you have tested positive, and the health department linked you to an outbreak or identified the source of your infection, you should contact an experienced food poisoning lawyer as soon as possible.
Most foodborne illness cases are filed in one of two places: the state where you got sick or the state where the food was produced. In legal terms, the location of the court is called the “venue.” The law strictly limits the options for venue and many practical and tactical considerations go into deciding the best venue for your case.
Before filing, we talk through the options with our clients. Most of the time, we end up filing the case where our clients live and consumed the contaminated food, but good lawyers carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each potential venue.
The best food poisoning lawyers set a very simple goal: resolve your case through settlement or trial for the most possible money on the fastest possible timeline. Honest lawyers, however, will admit that it is difficult or impossible to predict exactly how long a given case will take.
There are many unknowns at the outset of a case and in the legal system, there are often delays beyond the lawyers’ control. The timeline of a Salmonella lawsuit depends most directly on the strength and complexity of the case against the food company or restaurant; and the venue (some courts take much longer to schedule trials than others). Many cases take a year or more from the time you file the case to the time you get to a jury trial. Most cases, however, settle well before trial and much sooner than a full year.
Another factor is the injury. Although rare, Salmonella can cause long-term health problems. The long-term complications from Salmonella include post-infectious IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome); osteomyelitis; reactive arthritis (sometimes referred to as Reiter’s Syndrome); and an array of serious complications from sepsis, including damage to the brain, heart and blood vessels. Because you have just one chance to prove your case and because settlements are final, you, your lawyers and doctors must be absolutely certain that they have enough evidence about your injuries and the long-term impact of the infection. If you settle your case right away and later develop IBS, for example, you will not be compensated for those late-developing symptoms and will not be able to re-open or change the settlement.
For all of these reasons, it is difficult to say how long your case will take. The best lawyers will still be able to articulate a plan and method for moving your case as quickly as possible.
Absolutely not. Class actions are designed for situations where the injury or harm is the same for everybody affected. Food cases almost always involve a very diverse set of injuries. Even a “typical” Salmonella case varies considerably. One person might get better with a single trip to a doctor while another person may need three days in the hospital.
It is very important to us, as food poisoning lawyers, that we personalize and humanize every individual client. This personal touch helps us maximize the amount of money we can get for our clients.
Class actions can be very impersonal and many of us have read or heard about how they can result in huge attorney fees with very little benefit to individuals.
Many of our clients have never had any legal issue before. Understandably people can be nervous about bringing a lawsuit and dealing with what can be a hostile and adversarial process. The best way to overcome that sort of apprehension is to speak with an attorney who can give you reassurance and help you move forward.
If you have any questions about the process of bringing a Salmonella lawsuit, please feel free to contact us at (888) 828-0787. We offer free consultations and are happy to provide more information.